Seated at the desk against this wall is BRAXTON CARTER. Carter is: early 30s, rugged, no-nonsense. Carter works studiously on something in his hands. Behind Carter, his co-pilot DEREK JAMESON reclines at his desk, watching a “Mork & Mindy” rerun that’s been recorded on a VHS tape. Jameson is: African-American, well built, bored out of his mind.
On the wall near Jameson is a photo of MacReady standing by his Outpost 31 helicopter. A red magic marker has been used to circle his face, and a handwritten note beside him reads: “Do not accept rides from this man!”
A third man, IAN GRIGGS, watches with Jameson. Griggs is: Of thick Irish stock, red hair and beard. Their office space is small and cramped. A window looks out onto the tarmac where a massive SEA KING helicopter slumbers. The Sea King is the RV of helos.
JAMESON (re: Mork & Mindy): Man, just watching this guy makes me tired.
GRIGGS: Eh, I watch it for the girl.
Reveal what Carter has been working on: A Rubik’s Cube. Except, he’s not trying to solve it properly. He’s used a flathead screwdriver to take it apart and is now assembling the little cube pieces together.
He slaps the last piece in and holds it up. Smiles to himself. Turns around and-- The cube is slapped on the desktop near Jameson.
CARTER: Done. You owe me a beer.
JAMESON: No way. How...
Jameson picks it up in his hand. One of the corner pieces pops out. Jameson crooks his head at Carter.
JAMESON: You took it apart.
JAMESON: You cheated.
CARTER: I improvised.
Sander steps in from outside, with Kate and Adam in tow. His hair is lightly dusted with snow.
SANDER: Are you the Naval Search and Rescue team?
Carter blinks at Sander, then looks at the sign on the wall. It reads: “VXE-6 NAVAL SEARCH AND RESCUE.”
CARTER: Maaaaybe. Who are you?
SANDER: Doctor Sander Halvorson. The Oslo Geosciences Division called me down here. It’s imperative we get to Thule Station.
Jameson keeps watching TV. Griggs gives the scientists a subtle glance.
CARTER: You folks are doctors?
SANDER: I’m a microbiologist from Harvard. This is my science team.
CARTER: Well, go team. But Thule... That’s ambitious.
Kate lets out an exasperated breath. Carter notices. Kate notices him noticing and straightens up.
KATE: Look, it’s been a long trip for us already, and we just need someone to take us the last little bit. Tell me you’re ambitious enough to help us.
Carter’s gaze travels from Kate to Sander. Then he stands up and points to a map of Antarctica pinned to one wall.
CARTER: Here’s Thule. We’re down here. Your ‘last little bit’ is across sixteen hundred and twenty-three miles of absolutely nothing.
Carter points at Sander, Adam, and Kate as he continues:
CARTER (CONT’D): You weigh maybe two hundred? (then Adam) Plus one-seventy, seventy-five, (and Kate) Plus one-twenty. Add my crew and we get a half-ton of weight and some change.
Carter crosses his arms, still barreling through the basics of the task ahead.
CARTER (CONT’D): We gotta turn our Sikorsky Sea King into a flying tanker truck, load it with six hundred gallons of fuel plus a reserve, and that’s not the hard part.
Carter glances out the window at the WINDSOCK flapping near the Sea King.
CARTER (CONT’D): The trick is the crosswind, which is four knots right now but there’s a Herbie coming up the Alley tonight.
Focused back on the three of them.
CARTER (CONT’D): So if we get favorable winds, we conserve fuel and reach your friends in about ten hours. Otherwise, we fall out of the sky twenty clicks from anything manmade and the cold kills us. (beat) Now, you still want to go?
Unnerved by his speech, Adam shakes his head ‘no.’ But Sander is out front and nods.
SANDER: We’ll take our chances.
KATE: Hang on. Is it really that risky?
JAMESON: Every day.
KATE (to Sander): We should wait overnight. See if our pilot shows.
SANDER: We’re not waiting. (to Carter): You have three passengers and a few bags of gear.
CARTER: And you got yourself a pilot.
Jameson perks up.
JAMESON: Wait, what?
Carter zips his flight coat. Griggs shakes his head.
He zipped up.
EXT. TARMAC - AFTERNOON: The Sea King is powering up. Before Kate can board it, Sander holds her back.
SANDER: Kate, a moment.
SANDER: I know this was incredibly short notice, so I may not have been clear when we left. (beat) I am the lead in this expedition. My word is first and final. Understood?
KATE: I understood that back at Columbia.
SANDER: Kate. This is an opportunity of a lifetime.
KATE: Opportunity presupposes choice, doctor. Adam might be fine with your selective memory, but if we’re being candid, you’re holding my doctoral degree hostage. That’s the only reason I’m here.
The helicopter’s blades are nearing half power. Kate shouts the last of her words before passing Sander and boarding the craft:
KATE: (CONT’D) One week. You got me for that long. Then I’m going home.
EXT. ANTARCTICA - EVENING: Following the Sea King, flying over barren landscape. Out on the horizon, the sun begins to set behind the snaggletooth-shaped Transantarctic mountains.